Democrats will be hurt by rush to impeachment
Let’s be honest, this was always the way this was going to happen.
As we all know by now, on Aug. 12, a whistleblower complaint was filed with the inspector general of the intelligence community by a CIA officer who had worked at the White House. The complaint, as we now know, alleged wrongdoing by President Donald Trump.
On Sept. 18, The Washington Post revealed that the complaint existed and that it dealt in some way with a communication between the president and “a foreign leader.” Interestingly, the Post said that the interaction included a “promise” that was “so troubling” that it prompted the complaint to be filed. (More on that later.)
Then on Sept. 20, it was reported that the foreign leader was Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky, and that President Trump had “pressed” Zelensky in a phone call to investigate Joe Biden’s son Hunter for his involvement with a Ukrainian oil company.
Flash forward through the weekend and on Monday, Sept. 23, Trump admitted rather nonchalantly that the phone call had indeed taken place, and that he had brought up Joe Biden, though he denied that any kind of pressure was applied to Zelensky.
Now here’s where our story gets interesting. At this point, we still know virtually nothing about the entire affair.
That is where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decided to jump in. Before reading the transcript, and before reading the whistleblower report, Pelosi decided to announce on Tuesday, Sept. 24, that the House was going to launch an “impeachment inquiry,” and charged that the president had betrayed his oath of office.
Again, at this point she and the rest of the Democrats knew virtually nothing. Trump had not released either the transcript nor the whistleblower report yet — something he did virtually the next day.
Indeed, the inspector general admitted that the whistleblower was not a direct witness to the call, and that the person was relaying second-hand information acquired from a third party. So, essentially the Democrats rushed to judgment and acted based on the reports about a report about a report from someone who saw something that no one could clearly verify at that moment.
Ergo outright mistakes like the characterizations about a “promise made” by Trump that we saw early in the reporting on this story. This kind of thing happens when you play a prolonged game of telephone.
What this ultimately tells you is that the Democrats in Congress are leading with intent. They hate the president in a particularly special way, and they want beyond anything to remove him from office. That is their priority.
Many had hopes that the Mueller investigation would provide the necessary impetus to begin an impeachment movement that would have legs. When it ultimately did not give them what they wanted, they temporarily calmed down, hoping that they would be afforded another opportunity. To be clear, they never gave up that goal.
Then, media reports give them something they can latch their claws into and use for their own political purposes, and they rush to move forward before even reading the facts. So of course, when they find out a day later that the phone call did not include any kind of quid-pro-quo of aid money for investigatory attention, the pie had been baked and there was no way they were going to give up the ship.
In the end, though, the joke may be on them. They will impeach, but there is absolutely no way they achieve the threshold of votes in the U.S. Senate needed to remove Trump from office. So at the end of the day, he will remain in office, the Democrats will once again look weak, and we will head into the most bitter, vitriolic election campaign in American history, with an energized and angry base of support for the president ready to do just about anything to deny the Democrats their prize.
So, you know, good luck with that.
Matthew Gagnon of Yarmouth is the chief executive officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a free market policy think tank based in Portland. A Hampden native, he previously served as a senior strategist for the Republican Governors Association in Washington, D.C.